King in Chicago - A Reality Check

We celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Had he lived he would have been 82 years old. Of course, he was killed on April 4 and died at the young age of 39 years old. As King's life is talked about this week, many forget that he brought his movement to the North. He came to Chicago in 1966 and moved on the West Side in the North Lawndale community. He was invited to Chicago by the late Al Raby. He was resisted by the political power structure. There were no welcome wagons, ticker parades or proclamations. He was even shut out of his natural platform, churches. The Daley machine got the politicial politicians to disengage King. Fellowship and Liberty Baptist Church were few to welcome him with open arms.

Not to be discouraged King, did what he did naturally. He took to the streets. On flatbed trucks, home made signs and bull horns he went into the neighborhoods of Chicago, welcomed or not and marched and walked the neighborhoods from barber shops to street corners and in back yards. He spoke his message of truth, love and brotherhood. He talked about the racism in the North as it differed legally from the South. King came to Chicago to challenge open housing and poor schools.

Blacks were restricted as to where they could live. Open housing was an issue. Black students were being taught in overcrowded school, and often in what was then called "Willis Wagons." King marched in Marquette Park and it became one of his most violent as he was attached with rocks to his head and cars were burned and turned over. He held one of the biggest rallys ever in Soliders Field. Fundraisers attended by Sidney Potier, and Harry Belafonte were held at the Amphitheater on the South Side.

King was powerful. He challenged. Eventually open housing became a reality in Chicago and the Willis Wagons disappeared and chicago public schools improved. King's presence in Chicago started independent politics. He organized Chicago's black middle class, he recognized the business community he united the liberal and black community. A movement was underway. King was the best community organizer.

His movement lead to Harold Washington becoming mayor of the City of Chicago, Jesse Jackson running in l984 and l988 for President and he laid the foundation for what would eventually place Barrack Obama in the White House.

The world is a better place because of King, America became united and Chicago changed. We are thankful to have had his voice, his passion. The voice of The Negro Preacher from the South made a lasting impression. Celebrate his beautiful and wonderful life.

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